[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to measure the effects of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation on patients who had undergone thoracotomies, using the objective physiological measurement of forced vital capacity. Twenty-one patients were randomly assigned to an experimental group (n = 11) or a control group (n = 10). Each group performed three trials of forced vital capacity testing over a 20-minute period. In addition, the experimental group was given a 10-minute treatment of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation at the sites of greatest pain. The data indicated a statistically significant increase in forced vital capacity during the stimulation (p less than .01), suggesting that transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation during application improves chest expansion and mobility in patients who have had thoracotomies.